See below for I&R/A news and updates.
Training for I&R/A Specialists on Disability
I&R/A specialists are invited to refresh or strengthen their knowledge of serving people with disabilities through ADvancing States’ online training course, Disability for I&R Specialists. This course has been fully revised and updated, and this latest version is now available on ADvancing States IQ.
This course offers participants an overview of key issues relevant to providing information and referral/assistance (I&R/A) to individuals with disabilities. The course covers disability awareness; effective communication; services, programs, and resources; and disability rights and empowerment. It will help participants expand their understanding of disability; gain greater knowledge of disability resources, services, and support systems; strengthen awareness of resources and principles of disability rights and advocacy; and improve the quality of I&R service provision for people with disabilities. This course is free of charge. If you are new to the IQ learning center, you will need to create an account for yourself.
Resources for COVID-19 Response
ADvancing States has launched a new section of its website in order to provide updated information on Cornonavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This section highlights the latest guidance from federal partners; analysis, memos, and summaries from ADvancing States; and state resources such as general information, helplines, guidance, waivers, and disaster declarations. ADvancing States will continue to update the website as new resources become available. Visit Covid-19 Resources at www.advancingstates.org/covid-19.
The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) has Covid-19 resources on its learning center. These resources are available to any I&R program. Resources include webinars, guidance, training, and general information. Visit https://learn.airs.org/covid-19.
New ADvancing States iQ Course on Key Communication Techniques for Aging and Disability Professionals
A new course is now available on the ADvancing States iQ online learning center on Key Communication Techniques for Aging and Disability Professionals. This course targets all aging and disability professionals, but especially those who work directly with clients, such as Information and Referral/Assistance (I&R/A) Specialists, Options Counselors, Person-Centered Counselors, and Benefits Counselors. This course highlights key communication techniques; avoiding communication blocks; tips for effective communication with older adults; communication and disability awareness; disability awareness and the importance of language; and key takeaways.
This course is free of charge. To access the course, log in to ADvancing States iQ and search for the course Key Communication Techniques for Aging and Disability Professionals. If you are new to the iQ learning center, you will need to create an account for yourself. To log in or create an account, click here.
I&R/A Information Technology Systems: Findings from State Aging and Disability Agencies
ADvancing States has published a new issue brief on I&R/A Information Technology Systems: Findings from State Aging and Disability Agencies. This issue brief explores software systems that state aging and disability agencies use for resource databases and for client tracking, case management, and reporting. Data and findings are drawn from ADvancing States' 2018 National Survey of Aging and Disability Information & Referral/Assistance (I&R/A) Agencies. Information technology and management information systems are key tools that aging and disability agencies use in their day-to-day work to provide services to individuals, though the types of systems and their functionality can vary within and across agencies. This issue brief highlights responses from state agencies on aging and disability, though in some instances, data from all survey respondents is shared for comparison purposes.
Click here to access the issue brief.
Survey Report Highlights Changing Nature of I&R/A Programs
ADvancing States is pleased to publish findings from the 2018 national survey of aging and disability Information and Referral/Assistance (I&R/A) agencies. ADvancing States’ National Information and Referral Support Center, in partnership with the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), conducted this comprehensive survey to assess the current landscape of I&R/A programs, including opportunities, challenges, developments, and trends. Findings are available in the report Complex Needs and Growing Roles: The Changing Nature of Information and Referral/Assistance. The report shares information on a range of issues – including services and referrals, technology and social media, partnerships and systems, quality assurance, training and certification, and sustainability – from the perspectives of I&R/A professionals in state agencies on aging and disability, Area Agencies on Aging, Centers for Independent Living, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, No Wrong Door systems, and other non-profit human service organizations. Key themes to emerge from the survey data are:
- Theme 1: Funding and Sustainability Remain Significant Concerns for I&R/A Agencies;
- Theme 2: I&R/A Professionals are Serving More Individuals with Multiple and Complex Needs;
- Theme 3: The Roles of I&R/A Professionals Continue to Expand;
- Theme 4: The No Wrong Door (NWD) Model is Playing a Growing Role in Consumer Access to Information and Services;
- Theme 5: Changing Expectations for Effective Service Delivery Support a Focus on Training and Quality Assurance; and
- Theme 6: Diverse Modes of Consumer Access to Information and Assistance are Emerging in I&R/A Practice.
Survey findings underscore that, while connecting people to services remains the core mission of I&R/A programs, many programs are addressing increasingly complex needs among the individuals they serve. In this environment, I&R/A professionals are often called upon to bring enhanced skills and roles to their work, as agencies are called upon to build and sustain their capacity to meet growing needs.
Click here to access the report.
AIRS Certification Program: New Names for Changing Times
In January 2019, the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) announced new names for the credentials that comprise its certification program. Certification is a measurement of documented knowledge in the field of I&R reflecting specific competencies and related performance criteria, which describe the knowledge, skills, attitudes and work-related behaviors needed by I&R practitioners to successfully execute their responsibilities. The AIRS Certification Commission engaged in a consultative process with AIRS membership, certification holders, and national partners over the past year with the intent to develop new names for AIRS credentials. These changes are primarily intended to raise the status of the profession with stakeholders/funders; and to acknowledge the significant changes within the work performed within agencies engaged in helping individuals and families to find and secure the services needed to help them. The AIRS credential designed for aging and disability professionals, previously the Certified Information & Referral Specialist for Aging/Disabilities (CIRS-A/D), is now the Community Resource Specialist - Aging/Disabilities (CRS-A/D). All AIRS credentials now share the common stem of Community Resource Specialist. In addition to the CRS-A/D, Community Resource Specialist (CRS) is the new name for a Certified Information and Referral Specialist, and Community Resource Specialist - Database Curator (CRS-DC) is the new name for a Certified Resource Specialist. For more information on AIRS certification, visit https://www.airs.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3309. For further information on the CRS-A/D, see our fact sheet.
Monthly Technical Assistance Webinars
Click here to view recent and upcoming I&R technical assistance webinars coordinated by the National I&R Support Center.